Falling Tall Grass
Kind of a logger’s lament and followup to Timber Falling also by David Turnboo II
It has been six years now since I wrote the story, “Timber Faller” (for the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum) back when there were still timber falling jobs. Due to a number of reasons these jobs are now scarce.
I called this story “Falling Tall Grass” for a reason. Instead of cutting an 8 to 10 foot diameter virgin growth tree with my 088 Stihl chainsaw, I have been reduced to falling 1/8th inch blades of grass with my Stihl weed eater. The 4th to 5th growth timber that is being machine harvested is not mature, ripe wood with tight growth rings. This 3rd grade lumber is what people are building homes with these days. Hell, this wood warps before you get it out of the store. When is the last time you saw a solid beam being used in the construction of a new home?
My granddad, Alvin (Bill) Turnboo said, “Logging is a larger scale of farming, you harvest the ripe and remove the dead and dying crop for a better harvest tomorrow.” My Grand-dad Bill would turn over in his grave if he knew the low grade of lumber that is being marketed as “lumber”. I often wonder what my forefathers would think if they knew I have gone from Professional Tree Faller to Part-time Grass Faller. I am still hoping for a halfway normal season this year, which would be my thirty-seventh season of timber falling. Last season I worked only a few days.
I am going to a dedication at the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum. The museum has constructed a monument for the loggers and millworkers who lost their lives, or became crippled harvesting wood in the Sierras. I hope there is a good turnout at this memorial as I take care of a pioneer cemetery where many of these loggers, their families, and my logging family are buried. My McDonald T Round Brim and worn-our black cowboy had is off to all of them. A few ol’ timers keep telling me that logging will come back around and I hope they’re right. I’d love to get in a few more seasons for me and my dear friends who did not make it.
As I sit in the graveyard and write this story, it starts to rain and thunder, and with it comes the smell of spring and a longing to get back to the woods again, because I am a Tree Faller, not a Grass Faller, dang it! This spring storm brings back a lot of very good memories of storms in the mountains. Good memories like Hope Valley in 1976 and up at Hell Hole Reservoir in 2002.
As the rain lets up and the sky lightens, I hope the light will come back into logging too. I hope that the ones who call themselves loggers (the ones who let logging get into their blood) all find work this season. But if you don’t, just remember there is a lot of grass falling jobs. Just do as I do and hide your weed eater so no one sees you falling grass. We are loggers!
C. David Turnboo II 5-26-2010
P.O. Box 765, Diamond Springs, CA 95619